German libretto by Rudolf Schanzer & Ernst Wellisch
English Translation by Gerald Frantzen & Hersh Glagov
Stage Director Amy Hutchison
Choreographer Sara Stewart Schumann
Conductor Anthony Barres
Produced by Chicago Folks Operetta
At Vittum Theater, Chicago
Risque bedroom farce Viennese operetta is hilarious, well sung with wonderful melodious music making it a fun show!
The husband and wife team of Alison Kelly and Gerald Frantzen over the last ten years have mounted 12 acclaimed world premiere translations into English of rare Viennese and German operettas by composers such as Eduard Kunneke (The Cousin from Nowhere), Paul Abraham (Ball at the Savoy) and Emmerich Kálmá (Circus Princess). This year they will be producing two by Leo Fall (1873-1925) who was and equal to Franz Lehar as an operetta composer.
Fall’s Madame Pompadour (1922) was considered his masterpiece. Chicago Folks Operetta, utilizing the spacious Vittum Theater and fine acoustics present a first-class English translation of the Viennese operetta. Leo Fall’s rich score contains three wonderful waltzes, several cute comic songs including a clever semi-patter song as well as melodious music rich in fine rhythms.
In this funny three act risque bedroom farce of an operetta filled with sexy double entendres and contemporary pop culture references director Amy Hutchison effectively blends a stinging knock of the regal French of the late 18th century with the peppy Viennese music tradition
“This comic gem tell the fictitious story of Madame Pompadour, mistress of King Louis the XV, and her love affair with a dashing nobleman. Add a rebellious poet, a jilted wife, two bumbling policemen and the King himself, and the pair are soon caught up in a royal mess that only the clever Madame Pompadour can unravel.”
Madame Pompadour is led by a tour de force performance by Kimberly McCord whose soprano is titillatingly clear and winning. Her terrific smile exudes warmth and charm while also confidently manipulating men to her whim. McCord is fabulous here. She gets help from Gerald Frantzen’s powerful tenor and fine acting chops as Rene. Erich Buchholz is a hoot as the wacky rebellious poet with expert comic chops and a soothing tenor voice. Alison Kelly is the Madame’s assistant Belotte offering nice vocals and cute comedy.
But the zany action is led by the bumbling police chief Maurepas played goofy by Robert Morrissey with help from his nervous assistant Poulard in a hilarious turn by Matt Dyson. The fun blends with the fine music and the fabulous singing to keep this fast-paced and totally engaging comic romp flowing. From the rich mocking song known as ‘poissonnades’ that detracts from the commoner’s view of Madame Pompadour delivered by the ensemble to the physical comic turns by “people’s poet” Calicot performed naturally by Buchholz to the unique foibles of Jonah Winston’s as the French King, we enjoy this light farce that is performed exuberantly. Blending world class operetta music with rich vocals and ambitious comic timing produces an enchanting evening of brilliant yet rare operetta.
This wonderful art form needs to be seen to be totally appreciated. The English translations allow audiences to appreciate the cleverness, art and sophistication of Viennese operetta. Leo Falls deserves to be heard. When will a major corporate sponsor come forward to fund the dedicated folks at Chicago Folks Operetta as they persist in bringing 20th century Viennese and German operettas to contemporary American audiences in English that, together with their fine production qualities, offer a rare look back to the treasure of European culture? Get to Vittum Theater to experience the wonders of operetta in English in its glory. Then you’ll understand why Chicago Folks Operetta need a major benefactor. (Hint to the Lyric Opera of Chicago or maybe Mercedes Benz?).
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: July 17, 2015
For more info checkout the Madame Pompadour page at theatreinchicago.com
At Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble, Chicago, IL, tickets $40, $35 seniors. students, Friday, July 24, Saturday, July 25 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, July 26 at 2pm, Thursday, July 30, Friday, July31 at 7:so pm, Saturday, August 1 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, August 2 at 2pm, running time is 2 hours, 35 minutes with one intermission, through August 2, 2015